6 May 2009 | kevinolzak
Seen on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater in 1977
1972's "The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe," released by Cinerama in 1974, remains the sole credit for writer-producer-director Mohy I. Quandour (for at least 38 years). Not to be confused with 1942's "The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe," this is an extremely low-budget fiction dramatizing the breakdown of Poe's wife Lenore (circa 1835), who awakens from a cataleptic state in her coffin just before the burial, and must then be confined to a mental hospital run by Dr. Richard Grimaldi (Cesar Romero). Fresh off a starring role in Larry Hagman's "Son of Blob" (1971), Robert Walker Jr. is well cast, bearing a striking resemblance to the young Poe, with Tom Drake as the narrator/friend who recommends the good doctor's clinic, unaware of the strange behavioral experiments being conducted secretly during the evening hours. Unfortunately, while the script seems to depict Romero's character as a greedy, dastardly villain, his performance seems merely misguided while much of the running time is spent wandering through hallways until the climactic bloodbath (which, alas, features PG-rated gore). You'll either love or hate the "Lenore" theme song, it's heard constantly throughout the film. Playing Grimaldi's demented wife Lisa is ice-cool blonde starlet Carol Ohmart (1958's "House on Haunted Hill" and 1964's "Spider Baby"), whose career ended with this film (likewise actress Karen Hartford), while Drake was relegated to TV roles for his final decade. This was one of the very last releases for Cinerama, a company that distributed many horror films from 1969-1974, such as "Willard," its sequel "Ben," "Tales from the Crypt", and "--And Now the Screaming Starts!" Overall, considering the lack of a tighter script and some amateurish performances, a commendable effort for the early 70s, airing on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater on my 13th birthday, Oct 22 1977 (followed by 1942's "The Mummy's Tomb"), and once more on July 3 1982 (solo).